Professor Yates is a cultural and historical sociologist whose work focuses on the question: What does it mean and take for human communities to thrive in the late modern, increasingly global world. He has written on the cultural significance of sustainability as an emerging social ethic, on the changing moral practices and understandings of economic life in American history through the prism of thrift and thriving, and on the imperatives of international humanitarian and human rights organizations as carriers of a distinctive global moral and ethical order.
He is currently working on two projects. The first is a book on the moral dimensions of globalization, entitled: The Problem of the Good World: Reflections on Globalization and Moral Life. The second project is entitled “The Thriving Cities Project,” a multi-year initiative to create a new form of community assessment based on a holistic understanding of “thriving” in 21st century American cities.